World AIDS Day Song

Lyrics for Stronger Together performed as part of World AIDS Day in Seattle.
Stronger together?
I don’t know. 
How can I sit
and eat with you
when every night
I ache from hunger? 
I know I'm strong,
yet I'm afraid
that you will leave me
in the clinic graveyard
turning feet all blue from needles
stuck in those who cannot walk. 
These were my neighbors and teachers,
my lovers, small children, and God
I wish I had sores in my mouth
so I could blame the sores
for what I'm about to say… 
I look out and
see a sea of ribbons
bobbing all alone.
Ribbons frame holes
around our hearts. 
I have lived
through a million lives
opening and closing
the doors of death. 
Each death became a ribbon
until my bedroom filled
with ribbons, too many
dying that I swept them
all underneath the bed.
I forgot them until one day
my nine-year-old daughter
pulled the dust and the ribbons.
out to play. 
She asked,
"Daddy, why so many
ribbons hiding here?"
I told her about the people
I had cared for who had died. 
She held her head high
knowing that it was her time.
We tied the ribbons together.
No more hiding secrets from my girl. 
I now wear this ribbon
for a life that should have lasted
so much longer than mine.
When my daughter died
those ribbons tied together
strengthened me with knots
all twisted, ugly, gnarled, hopeful,
painful, sad, and calming. 
Let your ribbons sing.
Tell their stories.
Tie them back into your lives.
Even when you cannot smile anymore,
all the dancing,
all the questions,
all the faces of the living.
Touch them all to be
stronger together.
Tie them together
to be together now.

Stronger Together was written as part of a benefit luncheon for Multifaith Works in conjunction with Gay City Health Project, Seattle Counseling Services and Dunshee House. Vocalist Dennis Saffer and I performed this song at the Washington State Convention and Trade Center on December 4, 2008.


  1. tonya8.12.08

    How beautiful that you have re-instilled this symbol with life and meaning.


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